FG still prepared to negotiate with ASUU – Ngige

Despite a court ruling on Wednesday that barred ASUU from continuing its seventh-month strike, the federal government said it will continue to negotiate with the union.

Following a suit filed by the Federal Government, the National Industrial Court of Nigeria in Abuja ordered the striking lecturers to return to the classroom on Wednesday.

Sen. Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment, made the Federal Government’s position clear when he hosted visiting members of the Nigerian Association of Medical and Dental Academics.

He said: “The court ruling does not preclude us from going on with further negotiation and consultations.”

ASUU began its strike to demand that the Federal Government revisits some agreements signed between them in 2009 and also to improve on varsity funding and payment of earned allowances.

The lecturers also want the Federal Government to shelve its Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) in paying lecturers’ salaries.

The Federal Government uses the IPPIS platform to pay its employees.

They demanded that rather than its IPPIS, the government should adopt the University Transparency and Accountability Solution, the payment platform designed by the universities themselves to pay lecturers.

The minister told his visitors that the Industrial Court’s ruling was in the best interest of Nigeria and its people.

According to him, the ruling is a win-win for the government, students, lecturers, and for all Nigerians.

“It is a no victor, no vanquished.

“You doctors in academics are for now members of ASUU, but you are here; even though you have dissociated yourselves and you are working.

“We want to thank you for working and teaching your students,’’ the minister said.

He noted that pro-chancellors of universities had met with President Muhammadu Buhari and made some demands that included topping up the government’s offer and seeing whether there could be some bailout.

Ngige added that the president had assured that he would consult with stakeholders on the request.

The minister also commended the House of Representatives for intervening in the ASUU imbroglio.

Ngige said that he was happy that the Speaker, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila also assured that principal officers of the House would meet with President Buhari over the strike.

He explained that whatever money would be approved to meet some of the demands would go into the 2023 budget.

“Since the House has shown interest now, it is good and wonderful. When they bring that proposal, the Executive will not have any problem.

“ASUU should also know that this is a step in the right direction. All these things have been promised to them by the Minister of Education at their last meeting.

“For me, they should do the needful and go back to the classroom,’’ the minister said.

Ngige said the government would soon direct vice-chancellors to reopen the universities in compliance with the order of the court.

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